Published January 14, 2015
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, July 12, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: "The Boston Globe" spent six months digging into the life and record of Senator John Kerry for what began as a newspaper profile. What they ended up with was an in-depth book about the Democratic presidential nominee.
And here to discuss the strengths and liabilities of the presidential hopeful are co-authors of "John F. Kerry, The Complete Biography" by "The Boston Globe" reporters who know him best Michael Kranish and Nina Easton. We probably should give credit to Brian Mooney as well, whose not here.
NINA EASTON, KERRY BIOGRAPHER: Absolutely.
VAN SUSTEREN: He's up in Boston. All right. Nina, you did the later part of his work but, you know, we see him so much publicly. Is that what he's really like? I mean I always wonder whether the public figure we see is how he is in person.
EASTON: Well, there is this element to John Kerry, which I think puzzles people. He's a bit of an enigma. People describe him as aloof, a little bit reserved. And what was most interesting in the research for the book was that we came to understand why that is to a large extent.
John Kerry isn't really from a Massachusetts town. He was born in Denver. He spent several years up to about age seven in Massachusetts. Then his father was a foreign service officer, so the family moved to Washington and then overseas and he was shipped off to boarding schools from age eleven on. As he says in the book, "We were always moving on. It steeled you. We were always saying goodbye."
And I think this accounts largely for the reserve and almost distrust of large groups of people that you see. He does, however, have a core of friends that he's developed from these boarding schools and from Vietnam that have stuck with him through the years.
So, he does have that core of friends but I do think when he comes off he has difficulty connecting with a broader audience. That's why the John Edwards' choice to a large extent makes sense.
VAN SUSTEREN: Michael, did he cooperate at all with this or participate or sit down for interviews?
MICHAEL KRANISH, KERRY BIOGRAPHER: Well, sure. We did a series last year. It was a seven part series that ran 14 pages in the newspaper and he sat down for about ten hours of interviews for this series.
The book was written during the time when he was still running for the nomination right at the height of the Super Tuesday primaries and so forth, so our material for interviews was from the series.
To go back to your question you asked Nina, you know, he's also a skeptic of government. So, you ask why does he go, some people say flip- flop, other people would say why does he question things the way that he does?
A very short anecdote, he was in Vietnam and he was in Cambodia as part of a mission. I don't know if he intended to go but that's where he was but the government that was running the war knew that troops were in Cambodia but Nixon, President Nixon at the time was telling the American public, "We're not in Cambodia."
So, from a very early time, John Kerry is skeptical of government and he came back to protest the war that he participated in, so this is where some of this inner belief comes from. He does -- he did serve but he also questioned.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was it like to, I mean you write a book the three of you, Brian who isn't here, was it easy to do these different sections of his life?
EASTON: It was because I think each of us brought a different element to it. You know, I'm sort of a creature of Washington and was able to look at his Senate career. Brian certainly understood his role in Massachusetts politics. And, Michael, investigated his lineage, his ancestry and his time in Vietnam and actually came up with some information that John Kerry didn't know.
And to talk about it a little bit here, except for a quirk of history, we would be talking about John Cohen not John Kerry because, in fact, John Kerry's paternal grandparents were Jewish, both of them, and they were from central Europe. They changed their name and their religion because they faced tremendous anti-Semitism and they immigrated to the United States.
And so, and John Kerry's ancestry as we see it today, people think of him as Irish-Catholic and certainly he's Catholic, but the Irish part is not at all accurate and Michael was able to dig this out and actually bring it to Kerry and Kerry kind of reacted to it in some emotional moments.
VAN SUSTEREN: Strong suit and weak suit as he runs for president.
KRANISH: Well, I think the strong suit is that he does believe in service. He certainly does believe in serving his country. Most of his life has been serving his country, hasn't really been in private business other than he was a lawyer for a couple of years and he ran a cookie business or invested in one for a couple of years. He has certainly been in service.
I think the weak suit will be this perception, what does he stand for and certainly the hits about flip-flopping will hurt a bit. So, I think when you look at those two he's a good closer. He does close very well in all the races that I've watched, so that will be very important.
VAN SUSTEREN: You guys have great timing writing this book, right?
EASTON: That's right.
KRANISH: Well, we wrote the book because he's a nominee obviously.
VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously. We'll probably get some journalists who will write the one now on Senator Edwards.
EASTON: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you very much.
EASTON: Thank you.
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